Battle of the campaign buses: Candidates for Kentucky governor are on the road, urging their supporters to vote early. (Kentucky Lantern photos by McKenna Horsley)
With mere days left before Kentucky’s general election and as early voting begins, both Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and Republican gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Daniel Cameron are making final-hour pleas to voters across the commonwealth.
As they embarked on their respective bus tours, both candidates were joined by special guests to drum up support. Beshear was joined by Rapper Jack Harlow, as well as his parents, former Gov. Steve Beshear and former First Lady Jane Beshear join the governor this week.
Cameron’s entourage included Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, and Kelley Paul, the wife of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.
Both Beshear and Cameron emphasized the core messages of their campaigns while encouraging supporters to go to the polls as soon as possible. Early no-excuse in-person voting began in Kentucky Thursday and ends Saturday.
Beshear, like he has for months, focused on his administration’s record in economic development.
“Our job is to bring prosperity to every part of Kentucky, in every neighborhood in this city, and to create those big bright futures that each of you all deserve,” Beshear told college students at the University of Louisville.
Cameron underlined that he believes his conservative values better align with Kentuckians.
“Together on Nov. 7, we get a chance to say that enough is enough,” Cameron said in Campbellsville on Wednesday. “We no longer have to deal with a crazy agenda from Andy Beshear.”
Beshear and Harlow shake hands and take selfies
Hundreds of students at the University of Louisville rallied together outside the Red Barn on campus as Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear and rapper Jack Harlow walked on stage to greet them. They were also joined by down-ballot Democratic candidates, Lt. Gov Jacqueline Coleman and First Lady Britainy Beshear.
Harlow, a Louisville native and Grammy-nominated artist, said he first connected with Beshear last year when the governor called him before he went to set for a movie. On his latest album, “Jackman.,” Harlow name dropped Beshear in “It Can’t Be,” a song that has played regularly at Beshear campaign stops.
“We’ve been having dinners, getting to know each other,” Harlow told the Louisville crowd. “And I just want to say, this is a helluva stand up guy right here.”
Beshear and Harlow shook hands and took several selfies with students. Beshear then traveled to the University of Kentucky in Lexington for a similar rally. There, he was joined by his parents, former Gov. Steve Beshear and former First Lady Jane Beshear.
Thursday’s campus stops were one of several Beshear was scheduled to make at universities before Election Day. During the 2019 gubernatorial election, Beshear carried seven counties of the eight counties that have public universities in them. The exception was Calloway County, home to Murray State University, which went to Bevin by 1,184 votes.
Beshear has also made stops on his “Go Vote” bus tour in towns like Ashland, Covington, and Hazard, and will travel to Pikeville, Prestonsburg, Henderson, Dawson Springs and more before Tuesday.
“This race is about us. It’s about Kentucky,” Beshear said to the crowd in Lexington. “If we can send one message to the rest of the country, it’s that anger politics ought to end right now.”
Jax Hill, a sophomore communications major at UofL, said he is supporting Beshear because he likes him. Hill, who was a high school student during the coronavirus pandemic, also said he appreciated Beshear’s response to the pandemic.
“He’s been very in touch with his constituents,” Hill said of Beshear.
During the stops at UofL and UK, Beshear was met with dozens of pro-Palestine supporters, whom he did not address from the stage. The supporters chanted sayings like, “Free, free Palestine,” while holding signs and Palestinian flags.
Earlier this month, Beshear ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff to “grieve with Israel” but expressed hope for the safety of civilian Palestinians.
With special guests, Cameron appeals to Kentuckians’ conservative values
A few GOP stars, down ballot Republican candidates and his wife, Makenze Cameron, joined Daniel Cameron for his bus tour, dubbed the “Fight for Kentucky” bus tour this week. He drew crowded rooms and long photo-op lines during his campaign stops.
“This race really isn’t about us. This is about our kids and our grandkids. This is about preserving for them ideals that have propelled this nation forward since its very inception,” Cameron said in Campbellsville on Wednesday. “Those ideals being faith, family and community.”
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is currently the youngest governor in the country at age 41, told voters in Campbellsville and Glasgow on Wednesday that Cameron is “somebody that the rest of the country needs to know.”
Sanders, who is also the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and previously was the White House press secretary under former President Donald Trump, stumped with Cameron while he was running for attorney general in 2019.
“Our governors are the last line of defense in our country,” she told reporters in Glasgow. “Right now, Washington is completely broken and we need strong conservative governors like Daniel Cameron fighting back against the craziness coming out of Washington.”
Cameron was also joined by former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who has gained popularity in conservative circles since graduating for speaking against the inclusion of transgender women in women’s sports. Gaines gained media attention in 2022 after tying with former University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, a transwoman athlete, for fifth place in the NCAA Championships 200-yard freestyle event.
“I’ve been extremely dedicated to this issue, the broader issue of what this really means, because it’s a lot bigger than just women’s sports,” Gaines told supporters in Campbellsville. “The premise of this issue is that we’re denying objective truth.”
Gaines, who previously campaigned for former United Nations ambassador Kelly Craft during this year’s Republican gubernatorial primary, spoke highly of Cameron and his running mate, state Sen. Robby Mills, while criticizing Beshear for vetoing a law Mills sponsored which bans transgender girls and women from playing on their schools’ sports teams.
Kelley Paul, the wife of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, also joined Cameron for campaign stops Wednesday, including in Bowling Green, as she had done earlier in this election season. In her remarks, she criticized Beshear for his response to the coronavirus, especially when closing businesses and restricting in-person gatherings.
“Daniel Cameron believes, as does Rand Paul, that your rights are endowed to you from your creator. They come from God. They are inalienable rights,” Paul said in Bowling Green. “They are inherent to you as a human being. They are not from the government, they’re not given to you by a government and they cannot be taken away by any government or any governor.”
Trump, who endorsed Cameron early on in the race, renewed his support for the attorney general in a video released this week. While standing in front of American flags, the former president who is leading his own 2024 re-election campaign, says in the clip that Cameron is “a commonsense person.”
The night before the 2019 gubernatorial election, Trump did rally for former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who ultimately lost to Beshear.
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